On Dec. 5, 1999, the unthinkable happened.
A father arrived at his home in Lexington, S.C., and found his wife and the mother of his 2-month-old son had committed suicide after a short but fierce battle with postpartum depression.
Her name was Ruth Rhoden Craven, born and raised on Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant. She was 33 years old and was very much loved by her husband, her friends and her family. She was a perfectionist and loved her job, and she had been excited to be a mother.
Back then, no one really talked about postpartum depression. While things are a little better now, too many women still struggle with the shame that comes with it and the lack of education for treatment by health care providers. Ruth’s story is all too similar to the millions of mothers who have struggled with similar prenatal or postpartum battles with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
But what makes Ruth’s story different is what happened in the aftermath of her death.
Through their grief and anger, Ruth’s mother and two of her best friends started the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation in Mount Pleasant, S.C in March 2000. They wanted to bring more awareness to the disorder that took their beloved daughter and friend from them. They wanted to make sure that no more Lowcountry women took their life over a treatable illness, and that no more children would be left behind without their mothers. When they felt ready, they passed the baton to the board members of what is now Postpartum Support Charleston.
We are quickly approaching the 18th anniversary of Ruth’s death, and we want to bring her story back to the forefront of our organization. We are meeting with Ruth’s family members and friends, as well as other integral members to the founding of what is now Postpartum Support Charleston, and we are retelling the story. We want you to know about her and why her story is important to the health of our community.
Postpartum Support Charleston wants to erase the stigma surrounding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and we want EVERY mother to be screened. We want to remove barriers that keep women from getting help, and we want to connect them with other women who have recovered, so they can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
One way you can help us is by participating in our Stand For Moms T-shirt campaign. Proceeds from this fundraiser will help with our awareness efforts in the Charleston area. Your money can help us in our work, and believe us, we are on fire for this cause.
Thank you, and be on the lookout for Ruth’s story and how you can help make a difference to a local mom and her family.